Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson says he can’t understand why car-makers are refusing to adopt hydrogen as a replacement for fossil fuels.
“I’m baffled by the car industry’s apparent reluctance to think more seriously about hydrogen as a replacement for petrol and diesel,” he wrote in his driving column for The Sunday Times last weekend. “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, so we wouldn’t run out of it for about a billion years, and it’s clean too. A car powered by hydrogen fuel cells produces nothing from its tailpipe but water.”
He adds that the industry has the technology to begin making fully functioning hydrogen-powered cars right away, but is “sitting on its hands” and refusing to do so. Hydrogen cars were trialled by several companies, including Honda, several years ago, Clarkson says, but early efforts stalled. Now, though, a British firm is giving it a go again.
“Rather gamely, a small Welsh company called Riversimple is swimming against the tide and has developed a hydrogen car called the Rasa… But while the Rasa is made from all sorts of exotic materials, the company has given the poor little thing styling that Riley would have dismissed for being rather old-fashioned… Any normal person would look at it and think: ‘You know what – I think I’ll stick with my Ford Fiesta.'”
This, then, would be the solution, Clarkson concludes: car manufacturers need to come up with a car that looks like a Fiesta but runs on hydrogen technology.
“A Ford Fiesta is the shortest poppy in the field. And it should therefore be the shape that all the future-fuel start-up businesses adopt. Because if a car looked like this, produced only water and could power our house at night, we’d buy it. And then the motor industry would stop fiddling about with its pointless batteries and its hybrid-drive systems and get on the only road where there is actually a future for personal mobility. The hydrogen road.”